Monday, January 25, 2010


On 25 January 2005 - five years ago today - I wrote my very first blog post. It was on My Adventures in Syria. It was titled "Thanks for the idea, Jeremy," and the full text of the post was "This is also a blog." I know, profound, right?

At the time, I think I had been vaguely aware of what a weblog was for maybe about a year. But it took me a while to realize that a blog was exactly the outlet I needed: I was living in a foreign country and I had a lot of stories and pictures I wanted to share with family and friends in America. I had been doing the old-fashioned mass email thing for a while but it always kind of bothered me that I was inflicting my stories and pictures on people who might not really be interested.

Then the Indian Ocean tsunami hit, at the end of 2004, and a friend of ours who went to Sri Lanka to help with the relief effort started a blog to document his experiences. Jeremy thought it was a brilliant idea and I did, too. So I started a blog, mostly at Jeremy's urging. Now any family or friends who wanted to read stories about our time in Syria could just go to a website instead of sifting through an email. At that point, my only regret was that I hadn't started the blog sooner, or even had one going when we lived in Moscow (I still regret that).

Blogger asked me to name my blog, and it only took me a few minutes to settle on My Adventures in Syria. I figured I would probably change it later when I thought of something better. It was based loosely on an article I had written while in Moscow called "My Adventures in Gypsy-cabbing." That, in turn, was based loosely on that movie called Adventures in Babysitting. I don't know. It seemed to make sense at the time and I didn't stop to think that including a geographic location in my blog title would later cause me a headache.

Five years ago, when I started blogging:

-I had no idea what comments were. I had only given the URL of my blog to family and friends so when a random person commented on a post I was at once shocked, embarrassed, and flattered. From then on, I realized I had an actual audience somewhere out there so I tried to think of more interesting things to write about. I wish I had had Google Analytics installed back then (well, I wish Google Analytics had existed back then), because I think I had quite a bit of traffic going on and I still wonder where it all came from.

-I was one of the only people blogging out of Syria. I think there may have been about eight of us at that time. The Damascene was the big one, written by a Syrian named Ayman. Syria Comment was written by a foreigner but I think he and I were just about the only two Americans blogging from Syria back then. Now there are dozens if not hundreds of Syrian blogs - this, despite the fact that Blogger is often blocked there.

-Combining pictures AND text into one blog post took a lot of effort. At least it did for me. There was a program called Hello, and it wasn't very well integrated with Blogger, and it only worked about a fourth of the time, if that, on our sketchy Syrian internet connection. As a result, I usually posted pictures separately from the blog post they belonged to. It was just easier that way. I remember the first time I got a picture to actually stay in a blog post - here - and I just kept looking at it and looking at it. It was like magic. The words you see under the photo was my way of sneaking in some text. The Hello program allowed you to type in a file name for the picture so I just typed in what I wanted to say. Obviously, that wouldn't have worked so well for a longer blog post.

When we returned to America I didn't know quite what to do with My Adventures in Syria. I didn't have a lot of time to think about it, though, because Miriam was born and Jeremy (once again) had the brilliant idea to start a blog for her. Now, I don't want to get all Al Gore on you and say that we invented the concept of a baby blog for our far-away family members to enjoy. But I do think we were some of the first people to figure out that a blog was so ideal for that situation.

I started blogging from Jordan in 2006 (and continued in 2007). In the fall of 2006, I finally put aside my qualms about blogging from the US and started My Adventures in Tucson. And you know the rest of the story.

When did you start blogging? Why did you start blogging? How have things changed for you?


Amanda said...

About 8 years ago, I started a blog with a platform that didn't allow pictures, so it was more like an online journal. Then, when Lillian was born in 2006, we switched to blogger. I too was a little shocked/flattered the first time a stranger commented and wondered who the heck would be interested in my little family and our boring life on the central coast of California.

Liz Johnson said...

And the world is better for it. I'm so glad you started blogging.

I really, really, really wish there had been blogs back in 2000 (when I was in the ranchos) and also in 2001 when I was in Romania. I think I had possibly heard the term, but had no idea what they were. And so my blog was born out of the sheer boredom and need for a creative outlet with adult interaction that comes with being a new mother. :)

Susanne said...

I'm really happy that you blog. My Syrian friend googled "Ramadan in Syria," found you, showed me and I've been a reader ever since. :)

I blog just to have a place to record things I think are of interest (to me if no one else.) I've always preferred writing to talking on the phone and I am quite a reflective person at times so blogging is a great way to record what's happening in my life or reflect on spiritual things or maybe political and social happenings. And if I happen to get a comment or two, great. I received a very sweet one just the other day from a lady who said my posts were encouraging to her somehow. It really made my day. :)

I'm always happy to read about your adventures no matter where they happen to be in the world. :)

Happy 5 years!

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I started blogging in November 2009. Every day. Because you made me. It was an effort to get a post up everyday, especially after my surgery. I like the idea of recording thoughts & experiences in a short format three or four times a month, which is about right for me. Also enjoy reading what some others have to say (like you).

Julie said...

I'm also glad that you blog. I enjoy reading about what is going on in your life, and I think you have a lot of interesting things to say.

I love having a blog as an easy way to record snippets of my personal history and stories about my kids that I'll want to remember later.

I look forward to reading for another 5 years!

Nancy said...

LiveWriter is my salvation. I love that program. I'm sure there are others out there, but LiveWriter is what I'm using now. It's GREAT for pictures, layout, etc.

Hello was so lame-o.

I started blogging when we moved to Jordan in 2006(and also wish I had started sooner). I often looked to your blog for inspiration since I was still trying to figure out exactly what in the world one blogged about.

You always have such interesting things to say!

Katie said...

I am always remembering that I am a total blogging novice. Sometimes I think I'm so cool. Then I realize how long you have been blogging. And I feel like a baby.

But seriously, you have got to explain how to install the analytical thing. Please please please write a post about it or something so I can learn how to do it.


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